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Wearing patriotism around the neck: Is Modi’s tricolour scarf justified because he is the PM?

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By Rukma Singh

In a record-breaking attempt, an estimated 37,000 people took part in a yoga session at Rajpath on the morning of June 21 to mark the International Yoga Day.

Among these thousands of people was the supreme encourager of the practice in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said, “Who would have thought that Rajpath would become Yoga Path,” as he joined the record mass demonstration on the first International Yoga Day.

Narendra Modi is characteristically an outlandish man. Be it his Republic Day attire that was emblazoned with his name, or his ubiquitous ‘Nehru’ jackets that he has made his own, Modi remains a cult figure when it comes to attires of leaders world over.

However, a seemingly somber outfit that our Prime Minister donned today, to mark the International Yoga Day may land him in hot water. Modi was dressed in all-white attire and wore a tricolour scarf.

With the recent controversy including complaints against Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan for covering their bodies with the national flag in an ‘insulting’ manner, Modi’s seemingly patriotic attire might not go down too well with the Janata.

Many argue that the two are entirely different. While the Bachchans used the entire flag to ‘cover’ themselves, Modi just used it as a piece of clothing to wear around his neck.

The question is, how are the two different?

According to the prevention of insults to national honor Act, 1971: ‘Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt the Indian National Flag — or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both’.

The Act was amended by the NDA government in  2003 and now has an added explanation which reads: ‘The disrespect to the Indian National Flag means and includes using the Indian National Flag as a portion of costume or uniform of any description or embroidering or printing it onto cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins or any dress material’.

Thus, for the constitution, there happen to be no demarcations between the two situations. In 2005,  BCCI banned India’s boys in blue from sporting the Tricolour on clothing and equipment as it meant showing disrespect to the national flag.

Amidst the thousands practising Yoga despite the rains, all that meets the eye is how Modi managed to bring so many people together to indulge in what he feels should be mandatory. Also, the fact that the UN announced an International Day of Yoga last year after PM Modi’s appeal at the General Assembly adds to his achievement.

What remains to be seen is whether anyone tries to look beyond the obvious and question the unnoticed mark of patriotism around his neck that isn’t permissible by the Constitution.

If Modi’s wearing the Tricolour is justified because he is the Prime Minister and not just another celebrity ‘misusing’ it, then what becomes greatly evident is the hypocritical mindsets of people. The fact that he is the leader is but an added responsibility for him to have kept in mind our legalities.

But will Modi’s apparent good ‘intent’ and support base overpower a constitutional provision?

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  • AndhBhakt

    If someone is going to stand by ‘piece of clothing around neck’ theory.. You need to realise that it is clearly visible in the photos that the scarf touches his feet and ground mang times.. – clearly more disrespectful than what amitabh bacchan did..
    People can argue that it is not a flag as the ashoka chakra isn’t visible.. Remebeer the movie Dirty Politics? Malika Sherawat got an FIR against her.. In her picture too there was no ashoka chakra.. Just the three colours..

    Basically it is an issue only when Amitabh Bacchan or Malika or common man does it.. Honourable PMji doing it is fine.. Had it been any of the Gandhis or a muslim leader wearing that scarf, there would be demands for their arrest by now..

  • Shakti Putr

    According to the Act The disrespect to the Indian National flag means and includes:-
    Explanation 5:
    point (d)- using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state funerals or armed forces or other para-military forces funerals;
    So it is clear that using Indian National Flag as drapery in itself is a way how one can insult Indian National Flag.

  • AAm AAdmi

    its very disgusting how modi bhakts are giving explanations and tryin to justify that what he did with our flag is right …..
    see the pic , he is cleaning his face with with our flag
    he has tied our flag with his leg….
    Now where is the media ? y this is not shown on any news channel ?
    all are sold outs !

    where is this law now :::Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971: Explanation 2 – The expression, “Indian National Flag” includes any picture, painting, drawing or photograph, or other visible representation of the Indian National Flag, or of “any part or parts thereof”, made of any substance or represented on any substance. (It is part of national flag as per the definition)
    Explanation 5 – The disrespect to the Indian National flag means and includes — (d)using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state funerals or armed forces or other para-military forces funerals;

    all these things are for normal people … its atleast good to c that he only wiped his face not his ****.

  • First of all why Tri colour why not other coloured scarf? In abroad they take pride by hoisting country’s National Flag before the house on the Birthday of the owner of the House(Denmark). Once somebody in Denmark was bringing down the National Flag in the evening and he missed it and the Flag touched the ground. An Old Woman passing by car,stopped and reached the spot crying and asked the Flag should be lifted up immediately. Such is the respect they give to National Flag.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)

  • themysticindian

    A Controversy ridden TRP hungry Media and several of my fellow jobless citizens are ready to ‘tri’vialize anything and boom…! a new controversy is born! Cricketers and sportsmen wear uniforms with streaks of tricolor and they rub the dirt on their faces, sweat and snot and what not on their clothes while at play… now go ahead and cry foul for that too!. Congress has the tri-color in their flag and they have looted the nation way too long..and tainted the tri-color. so maybe they should stop using the tri-color! Or simply lighten up and pick a cue from Modi’s style and bring tricolor into your everyday life.

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  • AndhBhakt

    If someone is going to stand by ‘piece of clothing around neck’ theory.. You need to realise that it is clearly visible in the photos that the scarf touches his feet and ground mang times.. – clearly more disrespectful than what amitabh bacchan did..
    People can argue that it is not a flag as the ashoka chakra isn’t visible.. Remebeer the movie Dirty Politics? Malika Sherawat got an FIR against her.. In her picture too there was no ashoka chakra.. Just the three colours..

    Basically it is an issue only when Amitabh Bacchan or Malika or common man does it.. Honourable PMji doing it is fine.. Had it been any of the Gandhis or a muslim leader wearing that scarf, there would be demands for their arrest by now..

  • Shakti Putr

    According to the Act The disrespect to the Indian National flag means and includes:-
    Explanation 5:
    point (d)- using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state funerals or armed forces or other para-military forces funerals;
    So it is clear that using Indian National Flag as drapery in itself is a way how one can insult Indian National Flag.

  • AAm AAdmi

    its very disgusting how modi bhakts are giving explanations and tryin to justify that what he did with our flag is right …..
    see the pic , he is cleaning his face with with our flag
    he has tied our flag with his leg….
    Now where is the media ? y this is not shown on any news channel ?
    all are sold outs !

    where is this law now :::Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971: Explanation 2 – The expression, “Indian National Flag” includes any picture, painting, drawing or photograph, or other visible representation of the Indian National Flag, or of “any part or parts thereof”, made of any substance or represented on any substance. (It is part of national flag as per the definition)
    Explanation 5 – The disrespect to the Indian National flag means and includes — (d)using the Indian National Flag as a drapery in any form whatsoever except in state funerals or armed forces or other para-military forces funerals;

    all these things are for normal people … its atleast good to c that he only wiped his face not his ****.

  • First of all why Tri colour why not other coloured scarf? In abroad they take pride by hoisting country’s National Flag before the house on the Birthday of the owner of the House(Denmark). Once somebody in Denmark was bringing down the National Flag in the evening and he missed it and the Flag touched the ground. An Old Woman passing by car,stopped and reached the spot crying and asked the Flag should be lifted up immediately. Such is the respect they give to National Flag.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)

  • themysticindian

    A Controversy ridden TRP hungry Media and several of my fellow jobless citizens are ready to ‘tri’vialize anything and boom…! a new controversy is born! Cricketers and sportsmen wear uniforms with streaks of tricolor and they rub the dirt on their faces, sweat and snot and what not on their clothes while at play… now go ahead and cry foul for that too!. Congress has the tri-color in their flag and they have looted the nation way too long..and tainted the tri-color. so maybe they should stop using the tri-color! Or simply lighten up and pick a cue from Modi’s style and bring tricolor into your everyday life.

Next Story

India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)